We decided to arrive the day before the Pope on the Thursday so that we could recover from the long drive down to lourdes.
We set up our tent, in the village of the Young, just up the hill overlooking the town and within 5 minutes walk downhill and 15 minutes uphill from the Grotto.
Thursday evening we went to the Grotto, and was immediately struck by how touching and emotional it felt in person compared to seeing a picture of it.
Afterwards, after a quick visit to the shops we went to a concert held by the Young Emmanuel Group, featuring Live Christian Rock music and Praise to our Lord.
Saturday, the day of arrival of the Pope, saw us spending the morning looking around the town before getting our position at the front of the barriers in the Sanctuary before the crowds started to arrive.
As the time approached the crowd of people of all Nationalities, descended on the square, Flags waving, Nuns singing and umbrellas going up and down for the rain showers.
When the helicopter landed the crowd cheered and as the Pope got closer to the Sanctuary, seen on large Television screens, the tension Mounted. At last, Benoit XVI, arrived at St; Michaels Gate and entered the sanctuary, greeted by deafening roars and cheers from the crowd, with everyone trying to get a view and shouting his name.
In the evening after listening to The Popes speech, we all took part in the torchlight parade and the singing of “Ave Ave Maria”
Sunday Morning, we attended the Mass held by the Pope which was very moving and special, and then after Lunch we attended the Adoration Mass of the Blessed Sacrement, and was lucky to get close to the front and a good view of the Altar.
After the Adoration, the crowd erupted in applause of Pope Benoit XVI, and then when we all realized he was going to do another parade, we all made a dash for the Barriers. It was sheer Chaos as Children, parents, Monks and Nuns jumped Barriers all trying to get as close as posible, and all cheering “VIVA LA PAPE”.
On Sunday Night we attended a Special Rosary at the Grotto for the Irish Pilgrims.
On the Monday, we managed to find the time to visit the Jubilee Way, a walk following Saint Bernadettes footsteps to the Cachot, the Boly Mill, the Baptismal Font and the Hospice where she took her First Holy Communion.
We also managed to also visit the stations of the cross, the Churches, the Baths and take confession before making the long journey home on the Tuesday.
We were very fortunate to not only see the pope and attend a mass with him, but to do this at Lourdes on the 150th Jubilee Year, it’s a memory that will stay with us forever.